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1.  Targeting Oxidative Stress in Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma 
Cancer cell  2013;24(6):710-724.
Rhabdomyosarcoma is a soft-tissue sarcoma with molecular and cellular features of developing skeletal muscle. Rhabdomyosarcoma has two major histological subtypes, embryonal and alveolar, each with distinct clinical, molecular, and genetic features. Genomic analysis show that embryonal tumors have more structural and copy number variations than alveolar tumors. Mutations in the RAS/NF1 pathway are significantly associated with intermediate- and high-risk embryonal rhabdomyosarcomas (ERMS). In contrast, alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) have fewer genetic lesions overall and no known recurrently mutated cancer consensus genes. To identify therapeutics for ERMS, we developed and characterized orthotopic xenografts of tumors that were sequenced in our study. High throughput screening of primary cultures derived from those xenografts identified oxidative stress as a pathway of therapeutic relevance for ERMS.
PMCID: PMC3904731  PMID: 24332040
2.  Clonal Architectures and Driver Mutations in Metastatic Melanomas 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e111153.
To reveal the clonal architecture of melanoma and associated driver mutations, whole genome sequencing (WGS) and targeted extension sequencing were used to characterize 124 melanoma cases. Significantly mutated gene analysis using 13 WGS cases and 15 additional paired extension cases identified known melanoma genes such as BRAF, NRAS, and CDKN2A, as well as a novel gene EPHA3, previously implicated in other cancer types. Extension studies using tumors from another 96 patients discovered a large number of truncation mutations in tumor suppressors (TP53 and RB1), protein phosphatases (e.g., PTEN, PTPRB, PTPRD, and PTPRT), as well as chromatin remodeling genes (e.g., ASXL3, MLL2, and ARID2). Deep sequencing of mutations revealed subclones in the majority of metastatic tumors from 13 WGS cases. Validated mutations from 12 out of 13 WGS patients exhibited a predominant UV signature characterized by a high frequency of C->T transitions occurring at the 3′ base of dipyrimidine sequences while one patient (MEL9) with a hypermutator phenotype lacked this signature. Strikingly, a subclonal mutation signature analysis revealed that the founding clone in MEL9 exhibited UV signature but the secondary clone did not, suggesting different mutational mechanisms for two clonal populations from the same tumor. Further analysis of four metastases from different geographic locations in 2 melanoma cases revealed phylogenetic relationships and highlighted the genetic alterations responsible for differential drug resistance among metastatic tumors. Our study suggests that clonal evaluation is crucial for understanding tumor etiology and drug resistance in melanoma.
PMCID: PMC4230926  PMID: 25393105
3.  The genomic landscape of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma and pediatric non-brainstem high-grade glioma 
Nature genetics  2014;46(5):444-450.
Pediatric high-grade glioma (HGG) is a devastating disease with a two-year survival of less than 20%1. We analyzed 127 pediatric HGGs, including diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPGs) and non-brainstem HGGs (NBS-HGGs) by whole genome, whole exome, and/or transcriptome sequencing. We identified recurrent somatic mutations in ACVR1 exclusively in DIPG (32%), in addition to the previously reported frequent somatic mutations in histone H3, TP53 and ATRX in both DIPG and NBS-HGGs2-5. Structural variants generating fusion genes were found in 47% of DIPGs and NBS-HGGs, with recurrent fusions involving the neurotrophin receptor genes NTRK1, 2, or 3 in 40% of NBS-HGGs in infants. Mutations targeting receptor tyrosine kinase/RAS/PI3K signaling, histone modification or chromatin remodeling, and cell cycle regulation were found in 68%, 73% and 59%, respectively, of pediatric HGGs, including DIPGs and NBS-HGGs. This comprehensive analysis provides insights into the unique and shared pathways driving pediatric HGG within and outside the brainstem.
PMCID: PMC4056452  PMID: 24705251
4.  Prognostic value of patient-reported symptom interference in patients with late-stage lung cancer 
Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) have been found to be significant predictors of clinical outcomes such as overall survival (OS), but the effect of demographic and clinical factors on the prognostic ability of PROs is less understood. Several PROs derived from the 12-item Short Form Health Survey (SF-12) and M. D. Anderson Symptom Inventory (MDASI) were investigated for association with OS, with adjustments for other factors, including performance status.
A retrospective analysis was performed on data from 90 patients with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer. Several baseline PROs were added to a base Cox proportional hazards model to examine the marginal significance and improvement in model fit attributable to the PRO: mean MDASI symptom interference level; mean MDASI symptom severity level for five selected symptoms; SF-12 physical and mental component summaries; and the SF-12 general health item. Bootstrap resampling was used to assess the robustness of the findings.
The MDASI mean interference level had a significant effect on OS (p = 0.007) when the model was not adjusted for interactions with other prognostic factors. Further exploration suggested the significance was due to an interaction with performance status (p = 0.001). The MDASI mean symptom severity level and the SF-12 physical component summary, mental component summary, and general health item did not have a significant effect on OS.
Symptom interference adds prognostic information for OS in advanced lung cancer patients with poor performance status, even when demographic and clinical prognostic factors are accounted for.
PMCID: PMC3724766  PMID: 23371797
Symptoms; Interference; Lung Cancer
5.  High Symptom Burden Prior to Radiation Therapy for Head and Neck Cancer: A Patient-Reported Outcomes Study 
Head & neck  2012;35(10):1490-1498.
As a first step toward developing effective strategies to control symptoms associated with head and neck cancer (HNC) and its treatment, we sought to describe the pattern of symptoms experienced before radiation therapy.
Subjects completed the MD Anderson Symptom Inventory—Head and Neck Module before beginning radiation therapy.
270 patients participated. Symptom severity and interference varied between treatment-naïve patients and those with prior treatment. Cluster analyses revealed that 33% of patients had high symptom burden. Symptoms most often rated moderate-to-severe were fatigue, sleep disturbance, distress, pain, and problems chewing and swallowing. Poorer performance status, higher T classification, and receipt of previous treatment correlated with higher symptom burden.
A substantial proportion of patients were experiencing high symptom burden. Because few interventions currently exist for several of the most problematic symptoms, research in symptom reduction that targets the pattern of symptoms described here is greatly needed.
PMCID: PMC3788079  PMID: 23169304
head and neck cancer; patient-reported outcomes; symptom burden; MDASI-HN; symptom research
6.  C11orf95-RELA fusions drive oncogenic NF-κB signaling in ependymoma 
Nature  2014;506(7489):451-455.
The nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) family of transcriptional regulators are central mediators of the cellular inflammatory response. Although constitutive NF-κB signaling is present in most human tumours, mutations in pathway members are rare, complicating efforts to understand and block aberrant NF-κB activity in cancer. Here, we show that more than two thirds of supratentorial ependymomas contain oncogenic fusions between RELA, the principal effector of canonical NF-κB signalling, and an uncharacterized gene, C11orf95. In each case, C11orf95-RELA fusions resulted from chromothripsis involving chromosome 11q13.1. C11orf95-RELA fusion proteins translocated spontaneously to the nucleus to activate NF-κB target genes, and rapidly transformed neural stem cells—the cell of origin of ependymoma—to form these tumours in mice. Our data identify the first highly recurrent genetic alteration of RELA in human cancer, and the C11orf95-RELA fusion protein as a potential therapeutic target in supratentorial ependymoma.
PMCID: PMC4050669  PMID: 24553141
7.  Integrated Analysis of Germline and Somatic Variants in Ovarian Cancer 
Nature communications  2014;5:3156.
We report the first large-scale exome-wide analysis of the combined germline-somatic landscape in ovarian cancer. Here we analyze germline and somatic alterations in 429 ovarian carcinoma cases and 557 controls. We identify 3,635 high confidence, rare truncation and 22,953 missense variants with predicted functional impact. We find germline truncation variants and large deletions across Fanconi pathway genes in 20% of cases. Enrichment of rare truncations is shown in BRCA1, BRCA2, and PALB2. Additionally, we observe germline truncation variants in genes not previously associated with ovarian cancer susceptibility (NF1, MAP3K4, CDKN2B, and MLL3). Evidence for loss of heterozygosity was found in 100% and 76% of cases with germline BRCA1 and BRCA2 truncations respectively. Germline-somatic interaction analysis combined with extensive bioinformatics annotation identifies 237 candidate functional germline truncation and missense variants, including 2 pathogenic BRCA1 and 1 TP53 deleterious variants. Finally, integrated analyses of germline and somatic variants identify significantly altered pathways, including the Fanconi, MAPK, and MLL pathways.
PMCID: PMC4025965  PMID: 24448499
8.  Recurrent Somatic Structural Variations Contribute to Tumorigenesis in Pediatric Osteosarcoma 
Cell reports  2014;7(1):104-112.
Osteosarcoma is a neoplasm of mesenchymal origin with features of osteogenic differentiation. Patients with recurrent or metastatic disease have a very poor prognosis. To define the landscape of somatic mutations in pediatric osteosarcoma, we performed whole-genome sequencing of DNA from 20 osteosarcoma tumor samples and matched normal tissue (obtained from 19 patients) in the discovery cohort as well as 14 samples from 13 patients in the validation cohort. Our results demonstrate that pediatric osteosarcoma is characterized by multiple somatic chromosomal lesions, including structural variations (SVs) and copy number alterations (CNAs). Moreover, single nucleotide variations (SNVs) exhibit a pattern of localized hypermutation called “kataegis” in 50% of the tumors. Despite these regions of kataegis across the osteosarcoma genomes, we detected relatively few recurrent SNVs, and only when SVs were included did we identify the major pathways that are mutated in osteosarcoma. We identified p53 pathway lesions in all 19 patient’s tumors in the discovery cohort, 9 of which were translocations in the first intron of the TP53 gene, leading to gene inactivation. This mechanism of p53 gene inactivation is unique to osteosarcoma among pediatric cancers. In an additional cohort of 32 patients, TP53 gene alterations were identified in 29 of those tumors. Beyond TP53, the RB1, ATRX and DLG2 genes showed recurrent somatic alterations (SNVs and/or SVs) in 29–53% of the tumors. These data highlight the power of whole-genome sequencing in identifying recurrent somatic alterations in cancer genomes that may be missed using other methods.
PMCID: PMC4096827  PMID: 24703847
9.  Genome-wide association study of genetic predictors of overall survival for non-small cell lung cancer in never smokers 
Cancer research  2013;73(13):4028-4038.
To identify the genetic factors that influence overall survival in never smokers who have non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), we performed a consistency meta-analysis study utilizing genome-wide association approaches for overall survival in 327 never smoker NSCLC patients from the MD Anderson Cancer Center and 293 cases from the Mayo Clinic. We then performed a two-pronged validation of the top 25 variants that included additional validation in 1,256 NSCLC patients from Taiwan and assessment of expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) and differential expression of genes surrounding the top loci in 70 tumors and matched normal tissues. A total of 94 loci were significant for overall survival in both MD Anderson and Mayo studies in the consistency meta-analysis phase, with the top 25 variants reaching a p-value of 10−6. Two variants of these 25 were also significant in the Taiwanese population: rs6901416 (HR:1.44, 95%CI:1.01-2.06) and rs10766739 (HR:1.23, 95%CI:1.00-1.51). These loci resulted in a reduction in median survival time of at least 8 and 5 months in three populations, respectively. An additional six variants (rs4237904, rs7976914, rs4970833, rs954785, rs485411, and rs10906104) were validated through eQTL analysis that identified significant correlations with expression levels of six genes (LEMD3, TMBIM, ATXN7L2, SHE, ITIH2, and NUDT5, respectively) in normal lung tissue. These genes were also significantly differentially expressed between the tumor and normal lung. These findings identify several novel, candidate prognostic markers for NSCLC in never smokers, with eQTL analysis suggesting a potential biological mechanism for a subset of these observed associations.
PMCID: PMC3719971  PMID: 23704207
10.  Is Omega-3 Fatty Acids Enriched Nutrition Support Safe for Critical Ill Patients? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
Nutrients  2014;6(6):2148-2164.
Objective: To systematically review the effects of omega-3 poly unsaturated fatty acids (FA) enriched nutrition support on the mortality of critically illness patients. Methods: Databases of Medline, ISI, Cochrane Library, and Chinese Biomedicine Database were searched and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were identified. We enrolled RCTs that compared fish oil enriched nutrition support and standard nutrition support. Major outcome is mortality. Methodological quality assessment was conducted based on Modified Jadad’s score scale. For control heterogeneity, we developed a method that integrated I2 test, nutritional support route subgroup analysis and clinical condition of severity. RevMan 5.0 software (The Nordic Cochrane Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark) was used for meta-analysis. Results: Twelve trials involving 1208 patients that met all the inclusion criteria. Heterogeneity existed between the trials. A random model was used, there was no significant effect on mortality RR, 0.82, 95% confidence interval (CI) (0.62, 1.09), p = 0.18. Knowing that the route of fish oil administration may affect heterogeneity, we categorized the trials into two sub-groups: parenteral administration (PN) of omega-3 and enteral administration (EN) of omega-3. Six trials administered omega-3 FA through PN. Pooled results indicated that omega-3 FA had no significant effect on mortality, RR 0.76, 95% CI (0.52, 1.10), p = 0.15. Six trials used omega-3 fatty acids enriched EN. After excluded one trial that was identified as source of heterogeneity, pooled data indicated omega-3 FA enriched EN significant reduce mortality, RR=0.69, 95% CI [0.53, 0.91] (p = 0.007). Conclusion: Omega-3 FA enriched nutrition support is safe. Due to the limited sample size of the included trials, further large-scale RCTs are needed.
PMCID: PMC4073140  PMID: 24886987
omega-3 fatty acids; severe illness; parenteral nutrition; enteral nutrition; meta-analysis
11.  Establishment of Quantitative Severity Evaluation Model for Spinal Cord Injury by Metabolomic Fingerprinting 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93736.
Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating event with a limited hope for recovery and represents an enormous public health issue. It is crucial to understand the disturbances in the metabolic network after SCI to identify injury mechanisms and opportunities for treatment intervention. Through plasma 1H-nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) screening, we identified 15 metabolites that made up an “Eigen-metabolome” capable of distinguishing rats with severe SCI from healthy control rats. Forty enzymes regulated these 15 metabolites in the metabolic network. We also found that 16 metabolites regulated by 130 enzymes in the metabolic network impacted neurobehavioral recovery. Using the Eigen-metabolome, we established a linear discrimination model to cluster rats with severe and mild SCI and control rats into separate groups and identify the interactive relationships between metabolic biomarkers in the global metabolic network. We identified 10 clusters in the global metabolic network and defined them as distinct metabolic disturbance domains of SCI. Metabolic paths such as retinal, glycerophospholipid, arachidonic acid metabolism; NAD–NADPH conversion process, tyrosine metabolism, and cadaverine and putrescine metabolism were included. In summary, we presented a novel interdisciplinary method that integrates metabolomics and global metabolic network analysis to visualize metabolic network disturbances after SCI. Our study demonstrated the systems biological study paradigm that integration of 1H-NMR, metabolomics, and global metabolic network analysis is useful to visualize complex metabolic disturbances after severe SCI. Furthermore, our findings may provide a new quantitative injury severity evaluation model for clinical use.
PMCID: PMC3984092  PMID: 24727691
12.  The Origin of Novel Avian Influenza A (H7N9) and Mutation Dynamics for Its Human-To-Human Transmissible Capacity 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e93094.
In February 2013, H7N9 (A/H7N9/2013_China), a novel avian influenza virus, broke out in eastern China and caused human death. It is a global priority to discover its origin and the point in time at which it will become transmittable between humans. We present here an interdisciplinary method to track the origin of H7N9 virus in China and to establish an evolutionary dynamics model for its human-to-human transmission via mutations. After comparing influenza viruses from China since 1983, we established an A/H7N9/2013_China virus evolutionary phylogenetic tree and found that the human instances of virus infection were of avian origin and clustered into an independent line. Comparing hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) gene sequences of A/H7N9/2013_China viruses with all human-to-human, avian, and swine influenza viruses in China in the past 30 years, we found that A/H7N9/2013_China viruses originated from Baer’s Pochard H7N1 virus of Hu Nan Province 2010 (HA gene, EPI: 370846, similarity with H7N9 is 95.5%) and duck influenza viruses of Nanchang city 2000 (NA gene, EPI: 387555, similarity with H7N9 is 97%) through genetic re-assortment. HA and NA gene sequence comparison indicated that A/H7N9/2013_China virus was not similar to human-to-human transmittable influenza viruses. To simulate the evolution dynamics required for human-to-human transmission mutations of H7N9 virus, we employed the Markov model. The result of this calculation indicated that the virus would acquire properties for human-to-human transmission in 11.3 years (95% confidence interval (CI): 11.2–11.3, HA gene).
PMCID: PMC3966860  PMID: 24671138
13.  Mutational landscape and significance across 12 major cancer types 
Nature  2013;502(7471):333-339.
The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) has used the latest sequencing and analysis methods to identify somatic variants across thousands of tumours. Here we present data and analytical results for point mutations and small insertions/deletions from 3,281 tumours across 12 tumour types as part of the TCGA Pan-Cancer effort. We illustrate the distributions of mutation frequencies, types and contexts across tumour types, and establish their links to tissues of origin, environmental/carcinogen influences, and DNA repair defects. Using the integrated data sets, we identified 127 significantly mutated genes from well-known(forexample, mitogen-activatedprotein kinase, phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase,Wnt/β-catenin and receptor tyrosine kinase signalling pathways, and cell cycle control) and emerging (for example, histone, histone modification, splicing, metabolism and proteolysis) cellular processes in cancer. The average number of mutations in these significantly mutated genes varies across tumour types; most tumours have two to six, indicating that the numberof driver mutations required during oncogenesis is relatively small. Mutations in transcriptional factors/regulators show tissue specificity, whereas histone modifiers are often mutated across several cancer types. Clinical association analysis identifies genes having a significant effect on survival, and investigations of mutations with respect to clonal/subclonal architecture delineate their temporal orders during tumorigenesis. Taken together, these results lay the groundwork for developing new diagnostics and individualizing cancer treatment.
PMCID: PMC3927368  PMID: 24132290
Nature genetics  2013;45(3):242-252.
The genetic basis of hypodiploid acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a subtype of ALL characterized by aneuploidy and poor outcome, is unknown. Genomic profiling of 124 hypodiploid ALL cases, including whole genome and exome sequencing of 40 cases, identified two subtypes that differ in severity of aneuploidy, transcriptional profile and submicroscopic genetic alterations. Near haploid cases with 24–31 chromosomes harbor alterations targeting receptor tyrosine kinase- and Ras signaling (71%) and the lymphoid transcription factor IKZF3 (AIOLOS; 13%). In contrast, low hypodiploid ALL with 32–39 chromosomes are characterized by TP53 alterations (91.2%) which are commonly present in non-tumor cells, and alterations of IKZF2 (HELIOS; 53%) and RB1 (41%). Both near haploid and low hypodiploid tumors exhibit activation of Ras- and PI3K signaling pathways, and are sensitive to PI3K inhibitors, indicating that these drugs should be explored as a new therapeutic strategy for this aggressive form of leukemia.
PMCID: PMC3919793  PMID: 23334668
15.  RB1 gene inactivation by chromothripsis in human retinoblastoma 
Oncotarget  2014;5(2):438-450.
Retinoblastoma is a rare childhood cancer of the developing retina. Most retinoblastomas initiate with biallelic inactivation of the RB1 gene through diverse mechanisms including point mutations, nucleotide insertions, deletions, loss of heterozygosity and promoter hypermethylation. Recently, a novel mechanism of retinoblastoma initiation was proposed. Gallie and colleagues discovered that a small proportion of retinoblastomas lack RB1 mutations and had MYCN amplification [1]. In this study, we identifed recurrent chromosomal, regional and focal genomic lesions in 94 primary retinoblastomas with their matched normal DNA using SNP 6.0 chips. We also analyzed the RB1 gene mutations and compared the mechanism of RB1 inactivation to the recurrent copy number variations in the retinoblastoma genome. In addition to the previously described focal amplification of MYCN and deletions in RB1 and BCOR, we also identifed recurrent focal amplification of OTX2, a transcription factor required for retinal photoreceptor development. We identifed 10 retinoblastomas in our cohort that lacked RB1 point mutations or indels. We performed whole genome sequencing on those 10 tumors and their corresponding germline DNA. In one of the tumors, the RB1 gene was unaltered, the MYCN gene was amplified and RB1 protein was expressed in the nuclei of the tumor cells. In addition, several tumors had complex patterns of structural variations and we identified 3 tumors with chromothripsis at the RB1 locus. This is the first report of chromothripsis as a mechanism for RB1 gene inactivation in cancer.
PMCID: PMC3964219  PMID: 24509483
chromothripsis; retinoblastoma; RB1; MYCN
16.  Endocrine-Therapy-Resistant ESR1 Variants Revealed by Genomic Characterization of Breast-Cancer-Derived Xenografts 
Cell reports  2013;4(6):10.1016/j.celrep.2013.08.022.
To characterize patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) for functional studies, we made whole-genome comparisons with originating breast cancers representative of the major intrinsic subtypes. Structural and copy number aberrations were found to be retained with high fidelity. However, at the single-nucleotide level, variable numbers of PDX-specific somatic events were documented, although they were only rarely functionally significant. Variant allele frequencies were often preserved in the PDXs, demonstrating that clonal representation can be transplantable. Estrogen-receptor-positive PDXs were associated with ESR1 ligand-binding-domain mutations, gene amplification, or an ESR1/YAP1 translocation. These events produced different endocrine-therapy-response phenotypes in human, cell line, and PDX endocrine-response studies. Hence, deeply sequenced PDX models are an important resource for the search for genome-forward treatment options and capture endocrine-drug-resistance etiologies that are not observed in standard cell lines. The originating tumor genome provides a benchmark for assessing genetic drift and clonal representation after transplantation.
PMCID: PMC3881975  PMID: 24055055
17.  Whole-genome sequencing identifies genetic alterations in pediatric low-grade gliomas 
Nature genetics  2013;45(6):602-612.
The commonest pediatric brain tumors are low-grade gliomas (LGGs). We utilized whole genome sequencing to discover multiple novel genetic alterations involving BRAF, RAF1, FGFR1, MYB, MYBL1 and genes with histone-related functions, including H3F3A and ATRX, in 39 LGGs and low-grade glioneuronal tumors (LGGNTs). Only a single non-silent somatic alteration was detected in 24/39 (62%) tumors. Intragenic duplications of the FGFR1 tyrosine kinase domain (TKD) and rearrangements of MYB were recurrent and mutually exclusive in 53% of grade II diffuse LGGs. Transplantation of Trp53-null neonatal astrocytes containing TKD-duplicated FGFR1 into brains of nude mice generated high-grade astrocytomas with short latency and 100% penetrance. TKD-duplicated FGFR1 induced FGFR1 autophosphorylation and upregulation of the MAPK/ERK and PI3K pathways, which could be blocked by specific inhibitors. Focusing on the therapeutically challenging diffuse LGGs, our study of 151 tumors has discovered genetic alterations and potential therapeutic targets across the entire range of pediatric LGGs/LGGNTs.
PMCID: PMC3727232  PMID: 23583981
18.  Systematic evaluation of apoptotic pathway gene polymorphisms and lung cancer risk 
Carcinogenesis  2012;33(9):1699-1706.
We adopted a two-stage study design to screen 927 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) located in 73 apoptotic-pathway genes in a case-control study and then performed a fast-track validation of the significant SNPs in a replication population to identify sequence variations in the apoptotic pathway modulating lung cancer risk. Fifty-five SNPs showed significant associations in the discovery population comprised of 661 lung cancer cases and 959 controls. Six of these SNPs located in three genes (Bcl-2, CASP9 and ANKS1B) were validated in a replication population with 1154 cases and 1373 controls. Additive model was the best-fitting model for five SNPs (rs1462129 and rs255102 of Bcl-2, rs6685648 of CASP9 and rs1549102, rs11110099 of ANKS1B) and recessive model was the best fit for one SNP (rs10745877 of ANKS1B). In the analysis of joint effects with subjects carrying no unfavorable genotypes as the reference group, those carrying one, two, and three or more unfavorable genotypes had an odds ratio (OR) of 2.22 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.08–4.57, P = 0.03], 2.70 (95% CI = 1.33–5.49; P = 0.006) and 4.13 (95% CI = 2.00–8.57; P = 0.0001), respectively (P for trend = 6.05E-06). The joint effect of unfavorable genotypes was also validated in the replication population. The SNPs identified are located in or near key genes known to play important roles in apoptosis regulation, supporting the strong biological relevance of our findings. Future studies are needed to identify the causal SNPs and elucidate the underlying molecular mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3514904  PMID: 22665367
19.  The origin and evolution of mutations in Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
Cell  2012;150(2):264-278.
Most mutations in cancer genomes are thought to be acquired after the initiating event, which may cause genomic instability, driving clonal evolution. However, for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), normal karyotypes are common, and genomic instability is unusual. To better understand clonal evolution in AML, we sequenced the genomes of AML samples with a known initiating event (PML-RARA) vs. normal karyotype AML samples, and the exomes of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) from healthy people. Collectively, the data suggest that most of the mutations found in AML genomes are actually random events that occurred in HSPCs before they acquired the initiating mutation; the mutational history of that cell is “captured” as the clone expands. In many cases, only one or two additional, cooperating mutations are needed to generate the malignant founding clone. Cells from the founding clone can acquire additional cooperating mutations, yielding subclones that can contribute to disease progression and/or relapse.
PMCID: PMC3407563  PMID: 22817890
20.  Multicenter, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Phase II Trial of Gemcitabine/Cisplatin Plus Bevacizumab or Placebo in Patients With Malignant Mesothelioma 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(20):2509-2515.
Gemcitabine plus cisplatin is active in malignant mesothelioma (MM), although single-arm phase II trials have reported variable outcomes. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors have activity against MM in preclinical models. We added the anti-VEGF antibody bevacizumab to gemcitabine/cisplatin in a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized phase II trial in patients with previously untreated, unresectable MM.
Patients and Methods
Eligible patients had an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status of 0 to 1 and no thrombosis, bleeding, or major blood vessel invasion. The primary end point was progression-free survival (PFS). Patients were stratified by ECOG performance status (0 v 1) and histologic subtype (epithelial v other). Patients received gemcitabine 1,250 mg/m2 on days 1 and 8 every 21 days, cisplatin 75 mg/m2 every 21 days, and bevacizumab 15 mg/kg or placebo every 21 days for six cycles, and then bevacizumab or placebo every 21 days until progression.
One hundred fifteen patients were enrolled at 11 sites; 108 patients were evaluable. Median PFS time was 6.9 months for the bevacizumab arm and 6.0 months for the placebo arm (P = .88). Median overall survival (OS) times were 15.6 and 14.7 months in the bevacizumab and placebo arms, respectively (P = .91). Partial response rates were similar (24.5% for bevacizumab v 21.8% for placebo; P = .74). A higher pretreatment plasma VEGF concentration (n = 56) was associated with shorter PFS (P = .02) and OS (P = .0066), independent of treatment arm. There were no statistically significant differences in toxicity of grade 3 or greater.
The addition of bevacizumab to gemcitabine/cisplatin in this trial did not significantly improve PFS or OS in patients with advanced MM.
PMCID: PMC3397785  PMID: 22665541
21.  TGFβ1 Polymorphisms Predict Distant Metastasis–Free Survival in Patients with Inoperable Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer after Definitive Radiotherapy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65659.
Transforming growth factor (TGF) -β1 signaling is involved in cancer-cell metastasis. We investigated whether single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at TGFβ1 were associated with overall survival (OS) and distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS) in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treated with definitive radiotherapy, with or without chemotherapy.
We genotyped TGFβ1 SNPs at rs1800469 (C–509T), rs1800471 (G915C), and rs1982073 (T+29C) by polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism in blood samples from 205 NSCLC patients who had had definitive radiotherapy at one institution in November 1998–January 2005. We also tested whether the TGF-β1 rs1982073 (T+29C) SNP affected the migration and invasion of A549 and PC9 lung cancer cells.
Median follow-up time for all patients was 17 months (range, 1–97 months; 39 months for patients alive at the time of analysis). Multivariate analysis showed that the TGFβ1 rs1800469 CT/CC genotype was associated with poor OS (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.463 [95% confidence interval {CI} = 1.012–2.114], P = 0.043) and shorter DMFS (HR = 1.601 [95% CI = 1.042–2.459], P = 0.032) and that the TGFβ1 rs1982073 CT/CC genotype predicted poor DMFS (HR = 1.589 [95% CI = 1.009–2.502], P = 0.046) and poor brain MFS (HR = 2.567 [95% CI = 1.155–5.702], P = 0.021) after adjustment for age, sex, race, performance status, smoking status, tumor histology and volume, stage, receipt of concurrent radiochemotherapy, number of chemotherapy cycles, and radiation dose. Transfection with TGFβ1+29C (vs. +29T) stimulated the migration and invasion of A549 and PC9 cells, suggesting that TGFβ1+29C may be linked with increased metastatic potential.
TGFβ1 genotypes at rs1800469 and rs1982073 could be useful for predicting DMFS among patients with NSCLC treated with definitive radiation therapy. These findings require validation in larger prospective trials and thorough mechanistic studies.
PMCID: PMC3686751  PMID: 23840350
22.  Novel mutations target distinct subgroups of medulloblastoma 
Nature  2012;488(7409):43-48.
Medulloblastoma is a malignant childhood brain tumour comprising four discrete subgroups. To identify mutations that drive medulloblastoma we sequenced the entire genomes of 37 tumours and matched normal blood. One hundred and thirty-six genes harbouring somatic mutations in this discovery set were sequenced in an additional 56 medulloblastomas. Recurrent mutations were detected in 41 genes not yet implicated in medulloblastoma: several target distinct components of the epigenetic machinery in different disease subgroups, e.g., regulators of H3K27 and H3K4 trimethylation in subgroup-3 and 4 (e.g., KDM6A and ZMYM3), and CTNNB1-associated chromatin remodellers in WNT-subgroup tumours (e.g., SMARCA4 and CREBBP). Modelling of mutations in mouse lower rhombic lip progenitors that generate WNT-subgroup tumours, identified genes that maintain this cell lineage (DDX3X) as well as mutated genes that initiate (CDH1) or cooperate (PIK3CA) in tumourigenesis. These data provide important new insights into the pathogenesis of medulloblastoma subgroups and highlight targets for therapeutic development.
PMCID: PMC3412905  PMID: 22722829
23.  Whole Genome Analysis Informs Breast Cancer Response to Aromatase Inhibition 
Nature  2012;486(7403):353-360.
To correlate the variable clinical features of estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer with somatic alterations, we studied pre-treatment tumour biopsies accrued from patients in a study of neoadjuvant aromatase inhibitor (AI) therapy by massively parallel sequencing and analysis. Eighteen significantly mutated genes were identified, including five genes (RUNX1, CBFB, MYH9, MLL3 and SF3B1) previously linked to hematopoietic disorders. Mutant MAP3K1 was associated with Luminal A status, low grade histology and low proliferation rates whereas mutant TP53 associated with the opposite pattern. Moreover, mutant GATA3 correlated with suppression of proliferation upon AI treatment. Pathway analysis demonstrated mutations in MAP2K4, a MAP3K1 substrate, produced similar perturbations as MAP3K1 loss. Distinct phenotypes in ER+ breast cancer are associated with specific patterns of somatic mutations that map into cellular pathways linked to tumor biology but most recurrent mutations are relatively infrequent. Prospective clinical trials based on these findings will require comprehensive genome sequencing.
PMCID: PMC3383766  PMID: 22722193
24.  Association of Age at Diagnosis and Genetic Mutations in Patients with Neuroblastoma 
Neuroblastoma is diagnosed over a wide age range from birth through young adulthood, and older age at diagnosis is associated with a decline in survivability.
To identify genetic mutations that are associated with age at diagnosis in patients with metastatic neuroblastoma.
Design, Setting and Patients
We performed whole genome sequencing of DNA from diagnostic tumors and their matched germlines from 40 patients with metastatic neuroblastoma obtained between 1987 and 2009. Age groups at diagnosis included infants (0-<18 months), children (18 months-<12 years), and adolescents and young adults (≥12 years). To confirm the findings from this discovery cohort, validation testing using tumors from an additional 64 patients obtained between 1985 and 2009 was also performed. Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumor tissue was used for immunohistochemistry and fluorescent in situ hybridization. Telomere lengths were analyzed using the whole genome sequencing data, quantitative polymerase chain reaction and fluorescent in situ hybridization.
Main Outcome Measure
Somatic recurrent mutations in tumors from patients with neuroblastoma correlated with the age at diagnosis and telomere length.
We identified mutations in the ATRX gene in 100% (5/5) (95% CI, 50% – 100%) of tumors from patients in the adolescent and young adult group, 17% (5/29) (95% CI, 7% – 36%) of tumors from children, and 0% (0/6) (95% CI, 0% – 40%) of tumors from infants in the discovery cohort (n=40). In the validation cohort (n=64), we identified mutations in the ATRX gene in 33% (9/27) (95% CI, 17% – 54%) of tumors from patients in the adolescent and young adult group, 16% (4/25) (95% CI, 6% – 35%) of tumors from children, and 0% (0/12) (95% CI, 0% – 24%) of tumors from infants. We identified mutations in the ATRX gene in 44% (14/32) (95% CI, 28% – 62%) of tumors from patients in the adolescent and young adult group, 17% (9/54) (95% CI, 9% – 29%) of tumors from children, and 0% (0/18) (95% CI, 0% – 17%) of tumors from infants in the combined cohort (n=104). ATRX mutations were associated with an absence of ATRX protein in the nucleus and with long telomeres.
ATRX mutations were associated with age at diagnosis in children and young adults with stage 4 neuroblastoma.
Clinical Protocol
“Molecular Characterization of Neuroblastic Tumor: Correlation with Clinical Outcome” (clinical NCT00588068).
PMCID: PMC3527076  PMID: 22416102
25.  Common genetic variants in cell cycle pathway are associated with survival in stage III–IV non-small-cell lung cancer 
Carcinogenesis  2011;32(12):1867-1871.
Cell cycle progression contributes to the cellular response to DNA-damaging factors, such as chemotherapy and radiation. We hypothesized that the genetic variations in cell cycle pathway genes may modulate treatment responses and affect survival in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We genotyped 374 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 49 cell cycle-related genes in 598 patients with stages III–IV NSCLC treated with first-line platinum-based chemotherapy with/without radiation. We analyzed the individual and combined associations of these SNPs with survival and evaluated their gene–gene interactions using survival tree analysis. In the analysis of survival in all the patients, 39 SNPs reached nominal significance (P < 0.05) and 4 SNPs were significant at P <0.01. However, none of these SNPs remained significant after correction for multiple comparisons at a false discovery rate of 10%. In stratified analysis by treatment modality, after adjusting for multiple comparisons, nine SNPs in chemotherapy alone and one SNP in chemoradiation remained significant. The most significant SNP in chemotherapy group was CCNB2:rs1486878 [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.69, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.25–2.30, P = 0.001]. TP73: rs3765701 was the only significant SNP in chemoradiation group (HR = 1.87; 95% CI = 1.35–2.59, P = 1.8 × 10−4). In cumulative analysis, we found a significant gene-dosage effect in patients receiving chemotherapy alone. Survival tree analysis demonstrated potential higher order gene–gene and gene–treatment interactions, which could be used to predict survival status based on distinct genetic signatures. These results suggest that genetic variations in cell cycle pathway genes may affect the survival of patients with stages III–IV NSCLC individually and jointly.
PMCID: PMC3220611  PMID: 21965272

Results 1-25 (52)